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A Bunch of Battlers

“Wellsolongasyou’resatisfiedwiththechildren’sworkRon
wewon’tworryabouttheotherfterallthefatherwill
probably pick up a permanent job soon and send the children to
school”MrStonesmiledasheputBilly’sdrawingbackonthe
desk“That’scertainlyahappylookingpicture”Hewentoffto
his office.
Days rolled into weeks as the children pedalled over sandy tracks,
following the Lachlan River north. The dry months had turned the
rivers into a chain of water-holesoftenaday’sride apart. Always
they followed their Granddad’s rule for crossing dry country- -,
“campthefirstwaterafterlunch”
Some of these holes were deep and Pete was able to catch plenty
of fish. Mostly the water was brown – still quite good for drinking
and asPeteremarked“Youdon’tneedsomuchteainthepot!”
They caught yabbies too – which made a tasty meal. Sometimes
they would camp for a couple of days on a water hole – catching
up on schoolwork, making repairs to bikes or gear, and just
playing around.
At small settlements the children bought food. Robyn had
written to the Correspondence School that they would pick up
mail at Hillston, Condobolin, Nyngan and Bourke.
Pete had decided that he would go to the Employment Office at
Bourke, to see if he could find a job on a station.
It was late afternoon when they reached a small settlement – just
a few houses, a store, church and recreation ground with a sign
“FreeCamping”WhilePetespreadouttheirswagsandgotafire
going in the fireplace provided, Billy and Robyn went into the
store.
“Fancythatalittlefellalikeyou!”gushedtheladystorekeeper
who had watched from the door as the children had ridden into
town“Youmustfindithardgoingpet”ShetousledBilly’shair
Hestaredather“I’mfiveI’mthebestriderofthebunch”
Theladylaughed“Herewhat’syourorderlassie?”
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